Young Adult Books For Book Club

by Ashley Owens

Happy almost Friday fellow bookworms! I am following through on a promise to make a blog post a series… can you believe?!

In a recent post, I discussed some Adult Fiction recommendations for book clubs. Today I’d like to continue the book club recommendations by telling you about some YA books I think would be great picks for a book club!
The great thing about YA is that it’s often more accessible and readable for people because the main characters are younger. This is really important in book clubs, because not everyone reads avidly, so it’s a great way to get someone back into the “flow” of reading, or pique their interest in books & book clubs for the first time ever.


Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Seanz

There’s no way I was going to make a list of great ya books and not include this one – it’s literally my favorite ya book of all-time… I read it once a year.
Precious cinnamon rolls Aristotle Mendoza and Dante Quintana are both high-school-aged Mexican-American boys who aren’t very good at making friends. Then they find each other at the community pool one summer, and as they come of age together they also develop a beautiful relationship.
Both of these boys are absolutely precious and their story is GORGEOUS. They both have this tendency to think the worst of themselves and be inside their own heads too much, though Ari to a greater extent. There’s so much to parse out and discuss about their family relationships, the discovery of their identities, culture, and the feelings they have. Seriously, I get emotional every time I read this book and find something new to love about this it.

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley

It’s queer. It’s a retelling of Beowulf. It’s got themes of feminism. It was clearly written for me specifically.

This novel has wells upon wells of interesting plot points, character choices, and social commentary to draw on for a book club discussion. It will keep you guessing and interested, and I guarantee everyone will be asking each other about their interpretations of the book’s series of events. It’s a wild ride of a book, and one written unlike most other ya novels out there. If you choose this book for your book club, please talk about the author’s use of language, because it is exquisite!

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Shocking – a Gayle Forman book on another YA list of mine! I will never forget my experience reading this book; I literally cried when I finished it because I was sad it was over and knew I’d never read another like it. It changed my life.
While the title of this book suggest it’s about one day only, the main character’s story actually takes place over the course of a whole year. After meeting Willem in France and spending an adventurous day together, Allison goes home to the US and finds herself dissatisfied with her life and herself. She embarks on a serious journey of change and self-discovery, and it’s honestly inspiring.
I wasn’t in a book club at the time I read this, but I found myself wanting to talk about the topics this book brought up with anyone I could. It really made me think about finding “value” in life and how/when we know we’re in love, and so many other deep thoughts & feelings. These kinds of topics lend themselves super well to a book club.

Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

This book is me; it is my heart and soul. It’s like the author was speaking to/thinking of me directly as she wrote the story.
It’s a hard-hitting YA book about a girl whose brother rapes her best friend, leaving her to face some difficult realities, made all the more difficult by the fact that she is a survivor of sexual assault herself. It has queer representation in it, which is outstanding. And the writing itself is thoughtful but doesn’t shy away from the difficult. There’s so much empathy and care in the story, it’s absolutely breathtaking. I 100% recommend everyone read it, even if you don’t read it for book club specifically.

They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

Really any Adam Silvera book could be on this list. Just know that if you choose to pick one of his books up, you absolutely will cry during your reading of it.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I do believe this book has been on the NY Times bestseller list for over a year and a half now… which has to be a record.
This is such an important book, and handles the topic of the Black Lives Matters movement with intelligence, care, and passion. It’s also an accessible reading experience that remains honest, because the author can speak about it with honesty and from a place of experience.
It’s well written and makes for some deep conversation. Deep and important.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

It would appear that this book has flown completely under the radar; I have no idea why more people aren’t reading it!
In this novel, Minnow Bly is arrested for attempted murder after escaping from a religious cult. Oh, and she has no hands.
This is an absolutely original and riveting story. It’s surprisingly large, but doesn’t read that way. Seeing things through Minnow’s point of view really forces readers to be sympathetic and open. Her journey and the way she learns about what the world is really like is absolutely fascinating.


Check out more by Sparky here: http://wp.sparkylovesbooks.com/

HURRICANE DORIAN: THANKSGIVING A GOOD PLACE TO START

by James A. Wilson

Much has been spoken and written – deservedly so – about the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. The Category 5 storm hit the Bahamas with lethal force, accounting for more than sixty deaths and counting, plus mega millions in property damage. It killed two more people on Ocracoke Island – offshore of North Carolina – and sowed more devastation when it hit Eastern Canada. Progressive politicians and activists managed to make political hay – shocker – by accusing Donald Trump and ICE of new outrages when they declined to admit a hundred Bahamians to the country without visas. But I have not seen or heard one word about how thankful Americans ought to be in the matter of Hurricane Dorian.

Seriously, Jim? Sure, you are the guy who is always carrying on about how a Eucharistic heart – a heart thankful by default that can only be grown by repetitious choosing to give thanks when it makes sense and when it is counter-intuitive to the max – but seriously?

Let me count the ways. Dorian was expected to devastate Florida with nearly the destruction it brought Grand Bahama; for all practical purposes Florida was untouched as the storm turned northeast and skirted the Florida shoreline. By the time it reached the Carolinas it was – against all predictions – down to Category 1 and barely swiped the mainland, if at all. It swept up the eastern seaboard without much more than a peep although it flared up again on reaching Canada. You’d better believe there’s thanks to be giving!

There are other things to be thankful for. Untold thousands of Christians prayed in the days and weeks leading up to the storm breaking; they prayed for mercy and provision and for God to get glory for Himself. I don’t know whether people in the Bahamas and Northeastern Canada prayed with such commitment – surely some did and perhaps many – but I am inclined to thank God for what He has actually done rather than winge about what He has yet to do. That certainly aligns with the urging in 1 Thessalonians 5 to choose joy however we feel, pray without ceasing, and give thanks for all things. That is how we are enabled to see how God keeps His promise in Romans 8 to work all things for good in those who love Him and are called accordingly – sooner or later and one way or another.

The promise and instruction are potentially all encompassing of humanity, although in practice the number heeding either or both is much smaller. It is too difficult for most of us – and I include myself all too often – to really surrender our will to anyone else, especially when that One says we need to persevere to the end if we want to see the good stuff unleashed. The good news is all that persistence comes about through one choice at a time to repent – re-focus – enough to say thanks when it seems a silly thing to choose in the face of relentless adversity.

Of course it is counter-intuitive. Yet when we begin with thanksgiving we find our attention is diverted away from present – and entirely real disaster – to what the Lord Himself is beginning to unfold in the ashes. When I was divorced in 2015 – and let no one think I am defending divorce, including my own – hell had no fury like what most of the Church turned on me without a hearing or a question. Frankly, I was so spiritually exhausted I would have been happy to finish my days in the peace of obscurity; I chose to give thanks even for pain and injustice while waiting to see what the Lord had in mind. What he had in mind – so far revealed – was a new love and family, re-location to Australia where I not only married but found a British publisher for the novel turned down by so many American houses. I was invited to revive the radio ministry I left behind in California, was led to Idaho when my wife received her green card, was enabled to buy a home against all odds, and find myself still discovering the new pathways of ministry I would never have found in a million years had disaster never struck.

It was no different when it took five years of record-breaking drought to bring a few thousand Christians in each west coast state to seek a culture of repentance – begging God to make in us a eucharistic heart is a big first step into it – that radically changed our lives. God broke the drought into the bargain after spreading one man’s vision from the Mexican border into Alaska and the Arctic Circle.

No, we are not capable of doing all things – certainly when the adversary is a hurricane or a drought. We are – however – capable of choosing thanks over depression, and so enabling God to perfect His strength in our demonstrated weakness.

In the spirit then of 2 Chronicles 7:14, thank you Lord…for Dorian.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books, or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

New Book Releases :: September 24th, 2019

by Sean Frankel

These are all the popular book releases for September 24th, 2019! #titletuesday!

There are some fantastic Young Adult books that were released today!

The New Releases
A MacGregor Christmas by Nora Roberts – Romance
All the Devils by Barry Eisler – Mystery
Blood In the Water by Jack Flynn – Mystery
Bomber’s Moon by Archer Mayor – Mystery
Coming Home For Christmas by RaeAnne Thayne – Romance
Exile From Eden by Andrew Smith – YA
Immortal Born by Lynsay Sands – Paranormal Romance
Invisible As Air by Zoe Fishman – Fiction
Kisses In the Snow by Debbie Macomber – Romance
Lethal Nights by Lora Leigh – Romance
Lethal Agent by Kyle Mills & Vince Flynn – Thriller
10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak – Lit. Fiction
Remarkables by Margaret Peterson Haddix – Kids
Right Beside You by Mary Monroe – Fiction
Rules For Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall – YA
Sins of Fathers by J.A. Jance – Mystery
Spirit of the Season by Fern Michaels – Romance
The Bone Ships by Rj Barker – Fantasy
The Dutch House by Ann Pratchett – Fiction
The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz – Sci Fi
The Grey Sisters by Jo Treggiari – YA
The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen – Lit. Fiction
The Miracles of the Namiya General Store by Keigo Higashino – Fiction
The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht – Fantasy
The Off-Islander by Peter Colt – Mystery
The Riddle of Ages by Trenton Lee Stewart – YA
The Tenth Girl by Sarah Faring – YA
The Tyrant’s Tomb by Rick Riordan – Kids
The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman – Lit. Fiction
Verify by Joelle Charbonneau – YA 
Violet by Scott Thomas – Horror
Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell – YA
Wrapped Up In You by Jill Shalvis – Romance

LIFE BEGINS WHEN GOD BEGINS IT

by James A. Wilson

Practitioners of the religion of Baal are happy to co-opt the Christian Faith and even the Christian Bible when it suits their purposes. Leftist presidential candidates are enthusiastic about just such a practice, as evidenced by Pete Buttigieg’s recent statements claiming the Bible says life begins only when a baby first draws breath. Others will jump on this bandwagon they imagine a perfect vehicle for justifying abortion up to the moment of birth. Extending the logic can even justify post-birth execution; one can say the baby is not breathing on his own until the umbilical cord is cut. It is tailor made until we realize it is just another murderous lie.

Hopefully no one will be fooled, although left wing groups – including some who call themselves Christian – have been touting the idea for awhile. Genesis 2:7 is their favorite proof-text, the one in which God breathes into the nostrils of the man He has created and only then does Adam begin to live. Certainly breathing is essential for life inasmuch as when we stop breathing we tend to stop living. Yet the contention is still a lie from every conceivable point of view.

Eve was already breathing when she was removed from his side – if we take the Biblical account seriously – I do, but Buttigieg admits in interviews he does not unless it suits his agenda. That is because a human body oxygenates all flesh within it after that first breath; simple logic and the facts of physiology are clear. Just as clearly, the mother is providing life giving oxygenation to a fetus from the moment of conception, just as she provides it to every other cell inside her body. The most important common denominator of every story of human animation and/or re-animation in the Bible is people live when the Spirit of God breathes on them – whenever and however that occurs.

Psalms 139 says God knew the psalmist before he was born, or even formed; he was knit together by God in the womb when he was yet unformed, when there was nothing to him. God tells Jeremiah, and Paul of Tarsus after him, that He formed him from nothing in the womb. Isaiah claims that pre-animate formation by God Himself in Chapters 44 and 49. Job 31 assures us that all humankind are formed in just this way by God Himself and for His own purposes. Clearly – from a biblical standpoint – life begins when and because God so designates it from the beginning.

Of course science – as always when it is not perverted by political agenda – is one hundred per cent in support of the scriptural viewpoint. Fetal heart beat and even brain activity is now detectable closer and closer to conception. DNA tests on aborted or miscarried unborn children are fully – no-brainer – human. Younger and younger pre-natal human beings are able to live outside of the womb; I personally know twins born at less than twenty-four weeks gestation who flourish today. The reason they flourish is because the parents refused consent to let one of them die that the other might have a better chance. Babies will take that first breath if we let them; we have the technology to bless or curse them more often than not.

Many pro-abortion people defend their position – as ancient Baalists did before them – with statements that a fetus, a pre-born baby, is not a human person but rather a bundle of tissue until it is born. Given this non-human status, the welfare of others already breathing would take priority. Never mind the DNA and brain activity evidence I cited above, or the fact that babies respond in utero to music, parental voices, and a variety of other relational stimuli. Mayor Pete and his allies claim scriptural authority for their viewpoint, so let’s go to scripture. That done, we see their viewpoint is hogwash.

The New Testament word for baby is brephas. The New Testament word for unborn child is…brephas. In other words the Bible makes no distinction whatever between born and pre-born human life, according personality to both. Does anyone really believe if the authors of the NT meant to distinguish they could not have come up with another word? Seriously?

The case of John the Baptist is the most telling evidence for the imputation of human personality to a pre-born child in the New Testament. In Luke’s first chapter Mary is just knowingly pregnant with Jesus when she visits her cousin, Elizabeth, who is about six months pregnant with John. The moment Mary greets her cousin the baby John leaps in the womb, obviously responding to the presence of Baby Jesus in his mother’s womb. One could not ask for a more concrete statement of the biblical view of when human personality – life – begins. As I said earlier, it is when God declares it when as yet it has neither form nor substance.

I suggest Mayor Pete and his friends try reading the Bible – and respecting what they read – before presumptuously telling the rest of us what it says. If they do they might discover the good news that God actually does love everybody, came in the flesh because He intends to rescue everyone who will accept rescue – at any time – and realize the God-who-became-Humanity-embodied, the One who gave communion even to Judas Iscariot – and washed his feet the night of his betrayal – is just as anxious to save people like Mayor Pete who are happy to kill the most innocent humans on the planet at any time.

This is the best news of all time.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books or at praynorthstate@gmail.com

New Book Releases :: September 17th, 2019

by Sean Frankel

Some of the amazing new releases for September 17th, 2019! #titletuesday

Science Fiction and Romance releases have some big named authors! Definitely make sure to check those out!

The New Releases
A Golden Grave by Erin Lindsey – Mystery
A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie – Fantasy
A Single Thread by Tracy Chevalier – Lit. Fiction
A Trick Of Light by Stan Lee – Sci Fi
Ark by Veronica Roth – Sci FI
Dark Forge by Miles Cameron – Fantasy
Death In Focus by Anne Perry – Historical Mystery
Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay – Thriller
Frost and Flame by Gena Showalter – Paranormal Roamce
Guts by Raina Telgemeier – Kids
Land Of Wolves by Craig Johnson – Mystery
Met Her Match by Jude Devereux – Romance
On Division by Goldie Goldbloom – Lit. Fiction
Opioid, Indiana by Brian Allen Carr – Fiction
Red At the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson – Fiction
Shatter City by Scott Westerfield – YA
Steel Tide by Natalie C. Parker – YA
Strangers She Knows by Christina Dodd – Romantic Suspense
Summer Frost by Blake Crouch – Sci Fi
The Midnight Blade by Max Brallier – Kids
The Stalking by Heather Grahm – Romance
The Stranger Inside by Lisa Unger – Mystery
The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox – Horror
What Rose Forgot by Neveda Barr – Mystery
You Have Arrived At Your Destination by Amor Towles – Sci FI

REPARATIONS VERSUS RECONCILIATION Part II

by James A. Wilson

The fifth chapter of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian Church states – in the first of five verses – we are a new creation when we clothe ourselves in Christ. It continues – contrary to the bromide we are the drivers of reconciliation between persons or peoples – we were first reconciled to God by the sacrifice of Jesus the Son. It finishes by calling us to live as ambassadors of that same reconciliation that generates life itself.

Once we embrace and understand this passage (see my first book, Living as Ambassadors of Relationships, for a fuller understanding) it is a short stroll to understanding the process of reconciliation. It entails three steps and in no particular order. First we need to express our view of reality without pulling punches or resorting to insult. Second is listening to the opposing view, expecting neither pussy-footing nor verbal assault. Third – and most important – we need to permit reframing of the conversation by a third party who cares as passionately as we do while maintaining authentic objectivity; the referee needs to have no dog in the fight other than justice paired with unrelenting love. The catch is there is no Being in the universe other than the God who creates and redeems us with His own blood who perfectly meets the criteria.

Applying this strategy is as difficult as we might imagine it. It requires engagement couched in courageous assertiveness and simultaneous compassionate vulnerability. This is why I claim only the Living God can mediate the feuds that wrack us personally and corporately; only He has mastered the juxtaposition. Yet we are enabled to grow these qualities by association when we submit ourselves to Him in the process. Perhaps that is why He makes such a big deal of ambassadorship for reconciliation in the passage above; this is about becoming fundamentally human.

Lip service won’t cut it. I well remember when this same God called me to deliver a message to a gathering of indigenous people from all over the world some years ago. The message was that He meant to call forth a worldwide awakening from within these indigenous communities in anticipation of the end times; the catch was that He expected me – a white representative of the immigrant peoples – to declare this could only happen when the indigenous peoples themselves repented of their own sins before expecting others to repent of theirs. My fear was of wounding and insulting people who had already been wounded and insulted for centuries by people who looked like me.

When push came to shove and I was unable to find anyone of an appropriate community to deliver the message – people to whom I spoke believed it of God but insisted it was entrusted to me and I had to declare it – I submitted to my calling and began with a declaration of my own repentance. I shared the word I had been given and challenged those present to act on it. The seven hundred or so of us gathered there in Kiruna, Sweden, spent the next four hours approaching representatives of groups our people – whomever they happened to be – had wronged and receiving their forgiveness. The peace of God descended on us in a massive cascade and many deep and permanent friendships were born that day.

The challenge was to each of us – and I have my own wrongs to either prosecute or submit to higher authority in my Lord – to choose between legitimate demands for justice and personal resurrection. Before the next gathering – this time in the Philippines – I found myself victimized in the theft of a sizable inheritance by two persons of the very indigenous peoples I had invited to join me in repentance back in Sweden. Called upon to share my personal testimony of redemption I included my struggle to forgive this and other wrongs I have endured; I was able to joyfully – albeit painfully – assure my listeners forgiveness is a process and God is happy with any who hang in there with Him and with each other in that process. The good fruit included more than forty people who approached me over the remaining days of the event to tell me they had been set free to forgive and be renewed in their lives as a result.

The most dramatic reconciliation incident of that gathering came on the last day of workshops. As an attendee in a workshop dedicated to reconciliation I witnessed a member of a hill tribe whose members – the ones who have not yet received Christ – still practice both cannibalism and headhunting asking forgiveness from members of a tribe on whom they continue to prey. The three of them made an awkward but public statement of forgiveness and reconciliation – at the request of the workshop leader – but without the requisite engagement that makes such a declaration a statement of truth. I was pretty sure we would not see any of them again during this conference.

To my surprise and wonder they turned up near the end of the last workshop session the next day; arm in arm they hung out together for the duration. It was obvious they had not settled for the pro forma gesture they had made from the platform the day before. The circles under their eyes demonstrated they had spent a long night wrestling with the difficult issues of reconciliation through engagement; their efforts were crowned with victory.

If these warring tribesmen can reconcile in the wake of their horrific history so can the rest of us. Erasure is neither possible nor desirable. Following this process – submitting to its Author – is the sole path to justice, redemption, and peace at the end of wherever that path may lead.

James A. Wilson is the author of Living As Ambassadors of Relationships, The Holy Spirit and the End Times, Kingdom in Pursuit, and his first novel, Generation – available at Bounty Books.

New Book Releases :: September 10th, 2019

by Sean Frankel

These are all the new releases for September 10th! #titletuesday

We are super excited about the brand new Margaret Atwood book! Can’t wait to dive in to it!


The New Releases
A Treason of Thorns by Laura E Weymouth – YA
Akin by Emma Donaghue – Lit. Fiction
As the Light Fades by Catherine West – Fiction
At Death’s Door by Sherrilyn Kenyon – Paranormal Romance
Boundless by R A Salvatore – Fantasy
Claiming Sarah by Susan Stoker – Romance
Frankly in Love by David Yoon – YA
Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – Sci Fi
Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh – Lit. Fiction
Killer Instinct by James Patterson – Thriller
Life Is Short and Then You Die by Kelly Armstrong – YA
Lost and Found by Orson Scott Card – YA
Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble – Romance
The Ascent by Edward Brody – Fantasy
The Bitterest Pill by Robert B. Parker – Thriller
The Deception by Kat Martin – Romance
The Divers’ Game by Jesse Ball – Sci Fi
The Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer – Kids
The Fifth Column by Andrew Gross – Thriller
The Institute by Stephen King – Horror
The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton – Historical
The Minor Third by Neil Patrick Harris – Kids
The Nanny by Gilly MacMillan – Mystery
The Nobodies by Liza Palmer – Fiction
The Second Chance Supper Club by Nicole Meier – Fiction
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow – Fantasy
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood – Sci Fi
The Titanic Secret by Clive Cussler – Thriller
The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis – Historical Mystery
Where the Light Enters by Sarah Donati – Historical

Adult Fiction Books for Book Clubs

by Ashley Owens

Hello all… It’s been a minute since I’ve posted, but summer will do that to you! Life has been full of weekend trips, family events, spending time with partners & friends, and also a very taxing 6-week work training. To say that I’m tired would be an understatement!

One of the constants in my busy schedule (besides changing diapers) is my bookclub. Every month some of my very closest friends gather and drink (more drinking than talking about books, if I’m being honest) and it is such a nice gathering and that always fills up my little bookworm heart with goodness. I’m not the only one who chooses the books though – every member sends me 2 suggestions, and I draw randomly from a bowl to pick what we will be reading! When possible, I try to make a drink, food, or dessert that is themed to the book choice, because I’m a nerd like that.

Given how obsessed I am with books, I thought I would share some recommendations for book club picks in case you ever want to start your own club! I’m going to make this a short “series” of blog posts on here, and today I’m going to focus on adult fiction literature.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

It feels fitting that the first book on my list is one I’ve actually read for book club specifically. “Evelyn Hugo” is pretty much all over the book world right now, and rightly so. It’s easily my favorite read of the year, and instantly after reading it I knew it was in my all-time favorites list.

This book tells the story of Evelyn Hugo; an Elizabeth Taylor type old-time Hollywood actress who was very famous and full of rumors. Set in alternating timelines, the first being present day with Evelyn telling her story

to an aspiring journalist and the other back in time to the actual events she’s revealing, her story has so many layers and surprises to it and is absolutely fascinating.

In my experience, our club held one of its best and longest discussions on this book over any others. There were so many ways to feel about Evelyn and those around her, her choices, and her story.


Beartown by Fredrick Backman

This one is also in my favorite books of this year! It left me speechless and went places I was absolutely not expecting.

This novel centers around the tiny, rural town of Beartown in Canada; a town that would not survive without Hockey. But when a horrible act is committed, the town is divided and chooses sides. There are more points of view in this book than I can count, which completely fits the story given that it’s point is to really investigate the nature of the individuals of the town, and therefore the town as a whole.

I think this would make a great book club pick because while yes it centers around a controversy, it forces people to think about their true nature and maybe face some uncomfortable questions.


On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

This was also a recent pick for my book club! Which I was over the moon about because Ian McEwan is hands down one of my all-time favorite authors.


Honestly, this book is so unique and I’m unlikely to forget it anytime soon. The entire thing technically takes place in the course of maybe 4 hours (if that), and centers on a very much newleywed couple as they spend their first night together post-wedding. But because of a series of flashbacks to give context, everything is really fleshed out despite being short.

Most people in my club were happy it was short, and thought the length was the right fit for the story. It lends itself super easily to discussions for bookclub, not just around the structure of the novel (novella?), but on the implications of every little detail given.


Cleopatra’s Daughter by Michelle Moran

With all of the interest that readers seem to have lately in retellings or re-imaginings of myths & fairy tales, you would think more people would know about this book. But I don’t know a single other person who has read it!

The title says it all honestly – this book is about the life of Cleopatra’s daughter, Cleopatra Selene, immediately after her mother commits suicide and she is taken to Rome by Caesar.

I went into this with literally no expectations –

I listened to it on audiobook because it was available at my library and I have a deep interest in Ancient History – and ended up being completely enamored with and invested in it. I found myself making excuses to be in the car more often to listen to it! I learned so very much as a result of it, too.

So little is known about Cleopatra and her family, that I think anyone who reads this can’t help but learn a lot as well. The sharing of things learned would make for a good book club discussion, as well as some discussions around Cleopatra II, since she was at such a formative age when her life was turned on its head.


Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Yes yes, the movie adaptation of this book is being released soon. But do yourself a favor and read it before you see it, okay?

This one is kind of hard to describe: told from the point of view of her daughter, Bee (as well as random other emails, postcards, newspaper articles, etc.), this book is about the circumstances surrounding Bernadette Fox’s disappearance.

It’s hilarious, crazy, kind of mysterious, and so completely original…

there would seriously be so much to talk about for a book club… even just about Bernadette herself, who is so eccentric! The book definitely matches the personality of both Bee & Bernadette.


Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

I will keep this one simple, because Margaret Atwood is obviously a master at her craft: this is a retelling of the Shakespeare play The Tempest, and is absolutely a feat of creativity, attention to detail, and writing.


Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

Prepare yourself if you choose to read this one; it’s heavy. Both because it’s so freaking long and the actual content.

A part of history often not talked about in schools, Moloka’i is about the life of Rachel, a Hawaiian born in the early 1900’s who contracts lepracy and is sent to the leper colony of Moloka’i. The book is about her entire life, from when she is sent away, all the way to her last days. Seriously, it’s not an upper.

If your book club doesn’t mind a longer read, this is totally worth it, though

It’s chalk-full of history, questions of morality and mortality, and the exploration of culture and identity.


Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

The last book on this list that I actually read for book club! And I read a signed copy of it that I got when I went to a conference for the store I used to work at, so this book club meeting meant a lot to me when it happened!

It doesn’t sound like much at first – a novel that takes places in Iceland about the last woman to be hung to death – but there is SO MUCH to unpack in this story. It’s fascinating and intricate and so freaking well-written! The author was only like 22 when she wrote it, which I find completely inspiring.


The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

When it comes to Adult Historical Fiction about WWII, most people would suggest either “The Nightingale” or “All the Light We Cannot See.” I’m here to tell you that there are SO MANY OTHER OPTIONS. Yes those 2 books are stunning, but I’d like to highlight a lesser-known one.

In my opinion, this is Jodi Picoult’s best novel. Her writing is much more sophisticated in it and the story itself is thoughtful and different for her. It’s just so impressive, and actually kinda long!

“The Storyteller” follows the journey of a very meek young lady named Sage, who is asked by a beloved elderly man if she will kill him. When she asks why, he confesses that he was a Nazi and deserves to confess and die.
Needless to say, this story is thought-provoking and gripping, and definitely lends itself well to a book club.


Check out her website here: http://wp.sparkylovesbooks.com/